Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jacques Barzun on publishing

Jacques Barzun examines a truism of higher education:

Defenders of the system as it is often say that good teaching is inseparable from research and that the man who ceases studying at twenty-five is a dried-out and dull teacher ten years later. These are two statements that only seem to be the same. Of course the teacher must keep reading and thinking abreast of his time, but this does not mean that he must write and publish. The confusion hides a further absurd assumption, which is that when a man writes a scholarly book that reaches a dozen specialists he adds immeasurably to the world’s knowledge; whereas if he imparts his thoughts and his reading to one hundred and fifty students every year, he is wasting his time and leaving the world in darkness. One is tempted to ask what blinkered pedant ever launched the notion that students in coming to college secede from the human race and may therefore be safely left out when knowledge is being broadcast.

Jacques Barzun, Teacher in America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1945).
Broadcast, as Van Dyke Parks likes to point out, takes us back to agriculture.

Related reading
All Jacques Barzun posts

[Irony: Barzun of course has published as much as any forty or fifty everyday academics.]

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